Paul Coupaud, a spokesman for the VA in Phoenix, verified the postcard process, but said it is primarily used for confirming appointments, not making them. He said he could see how the mishap with Somers' address might happen.
"There are so many people who have access to the system, and if the new information doesn't get approved, it doesn't get stored. It's all one national system," Coupaud said.
He was familiar with Somers' suicide note, but said he could not release specifics about his file because of privacy concerns.
While Somers waited for an appointment postcard, his wife found him a psychiatrist in the private sector. The couple paid for most of Somers' medication, treatment and therapy sessions out of pocket.
They waited on a benefits claim for more than two years.
Such long waiting periods were common in the past, Coupaud said. But clearing backlogged cases is a top priority for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, he added.
A little more than a week after Somers committed suicide, Shinseki announced an end to the two-year waiting period.
"Over the past two months, VA has been dedicated to providing earned benefits to the veterans who have waited the longest," the secretary said in a prepared statement. "Thanks to our hard-working VBA employees, we have completed nearly all claims that have been pending two years or longer. We've made great progress, but know much work remains to be done to eliminate the backlog in 2015."
But the backlog wasn't Somers' only obstacle.
"Additionally, the VA told him he had to be in group therapy or no therapy at all. And he couldn't go to group therapy, because of his security clearance," Jean Somers said. "He had a top-level of security clearance because he was involved in some very high-level intelligence missions, and he would not be allowed to discuss that within a group."
Coupaud declined to comment on what type of therapy Somers did or did not receive.
"That's the first time I've ever heard of someone being denied private therapy," he said.
'So much to give'
Somers also sought therapy from other parts of his life. He started and fronted Lisa Savidge -- a progressive rock band that played on independent radio stations and performed all over the Southwest. The band often gave its proceeds to a group that donates blood to those wounded in conflicts in the Middle East.
Somers also was in the final stages of producing a documentary related to his time in Iraq -- "Project Shai." "Shai" means "tea" in Arabic. He had met and hired a director in New York and was making travel plans to begin filming in Baghdad.
"He was such a smart person, the most well-rounded person. It's just such a loss, not only to us as a family, but to lose this human being who had so much to offer, and so much to give -- and who knows, who knows, maybe the demons who drove him were incurable, who knows," Howard Somers said.
"But on the other hand, we won't know because he never had the chance to get that help."
He and his wife have several ideas on how to break down the bureaucracy and communication obstacles they feel prevented their son from getting the help he needed.
"We know this is going to be a long process," Howard Somers said. "We don't want this to be something that flames up and flames out. We really want this to persist."
The Somerses plan to investigate how the Phoenix VA treated their son. Afterward, they hope to build political support and propose legislation that would change the process.
"Outsource the psychiatric treatment. If they don't have enough mental health professionals within the VA, let them see somebody in the community. Don't just put them off, and put them off and put them off," Howard Somers said.
He also hopes to propose a 1-800 number that hospital staff could call to verify whether a patient is a veteran, so that veterans in need could be seen right away.
"It's the one thing keeping us somewhat sane at this point -- that we do have the opportunity to effectuate some sort of positive change," Somers' father said. "This was a young man who had so much intelligence and so much sensitivity and so much to give the world. I always told him that I thought he could change the world. I really did. I really, really did."